…[A]s a prose stylist, Kimball trades “cookbook pastoral” for “thresher gothic.” He writes about the locals with such misty reverence that you’d think he were Gauguin in Tahiti and that his odes to haying, sugaring and a New England past “when hard work, thrift and self-reliance were the coin of the realm” were larded with Proustian longing. Yet passages of bottomless ickiness come spring-loaded with genuinely unsettling episodes about the dangers of modern convenience and, of all things, death’s inevitability. For every mention of turkey fatigue or homemade soda bread, Kimball conjures enough mountain-road auto wrecks, equine tramplings and corn-chopper dismemberments to max out a police blotter. (In one editorial, a neighbor discovers a mass grave in some woods near Kimball’s home.) Much of the rest is just weird. Kimball considers dog-powered washing machines, describes a cave where locals take children for some kind of homegrown Meso-American initiation rite and rewards the patient reader with epigrammatic gems like, “If you had walked across this country a hundred years ago, you probably wouldn’t have eaten the same biscuit twice” and “When it comes to eating out, I have grown quite fond of church suppers” and “squirrel is mild and lean.